Realism, Antirealism, and Conventionalism about Race
This paper distinguishes three concepts of “race”: bio-genomic cluster/race, biological race, and social race. We map out realism, antirealism, and conventionalism about each of these, in three important historical episodes: Frank Livingstone and Theodosius Dobzhansky in 1962, A. W. F. Edwards’s 2003 response to Lewontin’s 1972 paper, and contemporary discourse. Semantics is especially crucial to the first episode, while normativity is central to the second. Upon inspection, each episode also reveals a variety of commitments to the metaphysics of race. We conclude by interrogating the relevance of these scientific discussions for political positions and a post-racial future.